Detroit Rock Bottom

Pardon the late writeup, but, well, excuses!  Would have had this one posted yesterday, but I was waylaid by a well earned but nonetheless blinding headache most of the day.  Why didn’t anyone ever tell me there were theoretical downsides to excessive drinking?

I blame society.
I blame society.

But to business!  A couple days past I got to head down to the Gladstone Theatre in the awesome company of my classmate (note: I will never stop calling you, or the others, that) Kathryn to check out the latest from Plosive Productions, Lisa D’Amour’s DETROIT.  Directed by Chris Ralph, the Gladstone gang kicked off 2014 with the Canadian Premiere of this deadly funny take on American suburban life and I’m pretty glad they did.  The play follows two families living backyard to backyard in the very beleaguered indeed titular city.  Mildly affluent Mary and Ben (Teri Loretto-Valentik and David Ross Whiteley) enjoy a good backyard BBQ and the quiet life, but are hoping their luck will turn around since Ben got laid off at the Bank.  Newcomers to the area Sharon and Kenny (Stephanie Izsak and David Benedict Brown) have long since tossed the notion of luck out the window, existing from day to day without a stitch of furniture to their name.  A random invitation from Mary to the new kids starts off their unlikely friendship, which will involve a lot of laughs, drinks, a little fire, and at least one trip to the hospital.  Oh yes…there will be blood.

But BBQ first.
But BBQ first.

DETROIT is as good a way to kick off this theatre year as you could reasonably ask for, or be unreasonable if you like, you’ll still leave smiling.  Chris Ralph knows him some stagework, and seems well suited indeed to helming this viciously funny look at the dog eat dog life in the decaying American dreamscape. He certainly corralled himself a solid cast…Teri Loretto as Mary is always teetering on the verge of a breakdown, balancing being the breadwinner of the family all of a sudden with just wanting to enjoy her damn life for five minutes.  David Whiteley as maybe-British Ben is a great straight man, until the strains of the situation start to bend him into all sorts of fun new shapes.  Watching the two of them spiral into Sharon and Kenny’s manic lives is a great ride.

Dave Benedict Brown and Stephanie Izsak in DETROIT.
Dave Benedict Brown and Stephanie Izsak in DETROIT.

I’ve only seen Stephanie Izsak once before with Odyssey a couple years back, and holy Hell she impresses as Sharon, almost unbearably vibrant and playful, giving her hard luck character some true childlike wonder despite all the hardships, and those do surface along the way.  And what did I tell you people about Dave Benedict Brown, what did I JUST tell you?  Him=Funny, and he proves me right in this show…although his Kenny also has a very cool underscore of danger that surfaces from time to time, and I like it.

The cast is rounded out by OLT vet Geoff Gruson, and I won’t give too much away about his appearance because it would spoil the surprise.  Suffice it to say this is a just plain fun show with an amazing cast, and laughs from beginning to end…even if those laughs are essentially about the economic uncertainty facing, well, most if not all of us these days.  Props to Attilla Clemman’s naturalistic set, much more dangerous than your eye might first lead you to believe.  Cheers to the first killer comedy of the season…keep’em coming.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the visitor (and Winston)

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